Saturday, July 20, 2013

Disneyland

In my first post on this blog I mentioned the book that I had read pre-trip. I had also signed up for the touring plans discussed in the book, of which the goal is to eliminate as much time standing in lines as possible. Now I know that when you go to a theme park standing in lines is to be expected. However, given that we were spending just one day at Disneyland itself and there were many rides we definitely wanted to go on, we figured why stand in line longer than we had to? So, I easily created my own customized touring plan, which the touring plan site "optimized" and today we were putting it to the test. Now the key to a successful touring plan is to get to the park when it opens, better yet you should get there at least a half hour before opening time. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned this part because, after all, this was vacation, right? Well, yes it is, but it's a Disney Vacation, which means that getting up early to ride Dumbo is key to a successful plan!

We ate breakfast in the concierge lounge again, which is an easy meal for us with our kids' allergies. I packed along individual packets of oatmeal and cereal. S, our 12-year-old daughter, ate the cereal with a carton of milk, some fresh fruit, and water. Our other two, B and A, ate the oatmeal which I easily mixed up with hot water along with fresh fruit and OJ. We then walked the mile to the park and quickly went through "security", which is just where our bags were briefly peeked into. Off to the entrance where I presented our printed-out paper tickets and she handed us our official tickets, which were good for today and tomorrow when we'd be going to California Adventure.

We still had about 20 minutes until official opening time so we slowly meandered through a nearly deserted Main Street, which I especially loved. I knew that as the day wore on it would become increasingly crowded so I took this time to grab some photos.

Main Street, U.S.A.

After we made our way through Main Street towards the castle, we looked at our Touring Plan and saw that Peter Pan ride was first on the list so we positioned ourselves behind the rope that would get us into Fantasyland. We had never been to a Disney Park at opening time so it was pretty funny seeing everyone sprint off once it officially opened!

Rope Drop! And they're off...

We quickly got into the line at Peter Pan, which must have been first on the list for a lot of people because there was already a 10 minute wait. After Peter Pan we continued making our way through the touring plan. I have to say I was happily surprised because we knocked out about 5 rides within the first hour! Even my husband was impressed!

Throughout the morning, both the crowds and the intensity of the sun were increasing. We started to use the Fastpasses (best invention ever!) and also felt the need to relax a bit and take a few extra rest stops. We ate lunch at the Jolly Holiday Bakery outside on the terrace, which had ample seating in the shade with a nice atmosphere. My husband and I split a grilled cheese and salad while the kids ate a lunch I had packed for them and a cherry lemonade from the restaurant. They weren't fans of the lemonade as my son said it tasted like "lemonade with red dye"! After lunch, we headed to a candy store on Main Street, where my kids picked out a lollipop. My husband and I grabbed a sweet treat for ourselves as well, including my adorable Mickey cake pop!

Mickey Cake Pop

After a few more rides including both Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones (we loved both!), I wanted to surprise the kids with the famous Dole Whip. I had read up on it as well as contacted a chef at Disneyland and was assured that they are vegan (no eggs/no dairy). It was as close to a soft-serve ice cream as my kids would get anywhere outside of their own house. Unfortunately my girls were not big fans of the pineapple flavor, however my son devoured his and his sisters'! It was a cool treat in the hot sun.

For dinner we ate at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port. I had read that this is not a particular favorite of many people, but again the allergies dictate and the chef recommended this one so I figured we'd stick with it. My husband and I split an antipasto salad which was really good! The pizza and breadsticks left much to be desired. My kids again were happy to have a cheeseless pizza but declared it not as tasty as the one the night before at Rainforest Cafe. This quick service dinner was also a lot more money that I had expected: our total was over $80 for 2 cheeseless pizzas, 3 slices of pepperoni pizza, breadsticks, 1 antipasto salad, 1 garden salad, and 5 waters. I read somewhere that it's a good idea to add $50-100 onto your daily budget when budgeting for a vacation and after this experience I will definitely use that tip!

After dinner we headed to Toontown. My kids were a bit older than it seemed Toontown was marketed towards but it was still fun to check it out and of course visit Mickey Mouse!

Visiting Toontown

As for favorite rides at Disneyland, my husband, 12-year-old S, and 9-year-old B loved Star Tours and Space Mountain and they rode those a few times each. The entire family loved Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster's. A surprise favorite was the Indiana Jones ride. With the exception of our youngest daughter, Miss A, we all loved Pirates of the Carribean (she was understandably a little scared). It's a Small World and the Teacups are classics that you just have to ride! Unfortunately Dumbo was shut down for the day otherwise that would have made the list as well. My personal fave is the Peter Pan ride. As for rides/attractions that we wouldn't bother with again: The raft to Tom Sawyer Island was very unimpressive as it was maybe a minute long. The island itself was okay as it was slow paced and had many benches to catch a rest break in the shade, which may be a good mid-afternoon option for very young kids or elderly folks in a group. S, B, and I rode the Matterhorn Bobsleds and were disappointed in the ride itself as well as how quickly it was over. Overall, the best way to sum up the day is with a few of my favorite photos from the day:

My trio by the castle, riding the teacups, and the Partners Statue at dusk


We didn't stay for the fireworks as we had a special show in store for tomorrow. Plus, after 13 hours of walking, our feet were sore, we were exhausted, and we had to get up early to do this all over again! Next up: California Adventure!

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